Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, April 24, 2000

Highway 12 improvements postponed one year for HL

By Andrea Vargo

Folks in Howard Lake will not have to deal with a detour this year, Mn/DOT representative Curt Eastland told the Howard Lake City Council Tuesday.

The Highway 12 improvement project has been postponed one year for the most part, Eastlund said.

Getting all the permits for the job is a complicated, lengthy process. The final permit has not yet come through from the Army Corps of Engineers, and without it, the project cannot be put out for bids, he said.

In answer to questions from the audience, Eastland explained that the Army Corps of Engineers has a 120-day review time, and it asked for another piece of information after the application was sent in January.

Unfortunately, that 120 days starts when it has the final piece, and it can ask for more information anytime it wants, he said.

Then, it takes 30 to 45 days after the bids are opened to get the paper work done and sign a contract with a contractor, Eastlund said.

This would mean the actual work could not start until August 1, and that would not be nearly enough time to do the work in the city, he said.

It would be a disaster if the city were caught at the end of the year with wet weather and an open hole or six blocks of mud streets, he said.

There are several advantages to waiting a year, Eastlund told the council.

First, a lot of preliminary work can be done this year without digging up the road. That will make next year's work go a lot faster, he said.

In addition, traffic will only have to deal with a detour for one year, rather than two. That should bring regular traffic back through Howard Lake quicker, and that will be better for businesses, he said.

Other concerns include the foundations of some of the businesses along Highway 12.

Consultants have been through the city to test the foundations and found that some of them may be affected by the vibration of compacting fill for the roadway.

More specific instructions need to be written into the contracts about how the fill is compacted, in order to safeguard the foundations, Eastlund said.

"Had this all gone the way it was supposed to go, the city would have to pay (for the sewer and water work up front), but the city can actually sit on that bond money until next spring (and collect the interest)," Eastlund stated.

Parking lots

Assessments for the north side park and ride lot behind Old Town Gallery and the south side lot beside Red's Family Restaurant were approved.

City Engineer Brad DeWolf provided the final figures for those assessments.

The park and ride lot costs were broken down: purchase of the Durdahl building - $50,000, demolition of the Durdahl building - $9,000, purchase of railroad right-of-way - $6,000, for a total of $65,000.

The city covered 50 percent of that cost, and the remaining $32,5000 is split evenly among the six businesses bordering the parking lot at $5,416.67 each.

Old Town Gallery owner Pat Van Oss said he had problems with that split.

The liquor store benefits as much as he does from the parking lot, he said, he felt the cost should be split seven ways, not six.

DeWolf told Van Oss that the city already is paying for half the costs, but if he would rather have it (the $65,000 total) split seven ways, then he would actually end up paying more.

Van Oss was also upset because the liquor store patrons take up too many parking spaces by his store in the late afternoon and evening.

"You are parking in two of your own spots with a trailer and a vehicle," Councilman Shelly Reddemann stated.

Temporary parking and a set of stairs will be placed behind the liquor store to accommodate customers during the Highway 12 construction, said Mayor Gerry Smith.

As far as the south side parking lot is concerned, the cost breakdown is: purchase Berube building - $12,000, demolition of Berube building - $12,500, lot construction - $18,670.

The city will pay for 50 percent of the cost, and the three business owners that border the lot came forward and each agreed to pay for the number of parking stalls that benefit them: William Strandquist -$10,792, John Ringold - $7,187.80, Vern Kleve - $3,604.

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